Images of War series - M7 Priest

Images of War series - M7 Priest

David Doyle
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
The Second World War saw the use of armour in all arms battle groups. The speed of advance meant that artillery and infantry had to be mounted on equally mobile platforms and provided with armoured protection. That in turn meant that logistics would be under heavy pressure for fuel, supplies, ammunition and spares. As a result, proven armoured chassis, built for gun tanks, were employed as platforms for specialist mobile systems intended for other roles.

The US were initially ill-prepared for a major modern war. From 1939 to Pearl Harbour at the end of 1941, the US military and the defence contractors were having to play catch up, learning as much as possible from the war that Britain and Germany were fighting. The use of mechanized and armoured battlegroups, with the use of aircraft in close support, required artillery to both keep up with the
armoured spearhead, but also to move firing positions quickly to avoid counter battery fire from the enemy's artillery. That inevitably meant taking a chassis already in production as a gun tank and
adapting it to take a much heavier gun as a self propelled artillery piece.

Before the US entry into WWII, it was working hard to update its tank designs and it had the benefit of feedback from its British customer, particularly in respect of the fast moving North African Campaign where armies chased each other back and forth along the narrow coastal strip between Egypt and Algeria.

The US gun tanks were struggling to match German technology but they were designed for mass
production and their numbers were to make up for many of the design weaknesses. The M4 Sherman
was to prove a generally reliable gun tank that could take on the more numerous earlier German models
even if they were strongly outmatched by the German 88mm anti-tank guns and the Tiger I battle tanks.

It was therefore no surprise that the M7 Priest was to be built on the M4 Sherman chassis. By marrying
the 105mm howitzer with the M4 chassis, a very effective self propelled artillery piece was produced.

It was to serve with success in all theatres of WWII with distinction and continued as a front line
artillery platform after 1945, still in service with US forces in the Korean War and used in the Middle
East by combatants after that.

Most of the images are monochrome and from WWII. There are also some very good images in full colour of M7s in action and of preserved examples.

The text and images start with a written introduction to the subject, followed by pictures and history of the first trial type. Words and imagery then move through the various production models/variants, based around the various orders placed by the US military with several contractors, before moving to descriptions, written and photographic, of the M7 in the field.

The M7 saw service in North Africa, Italy, the Invasion of Europe and the Pacific, and there is excellent material here from all theatres. There's one rear-view pic of a British mortar carrying variant, and mention of the Kangaroo personnel-carrier type, but no. pics of the latter. The Priest's development and deployment by the US continued into the Korean War, in the early '50s, which Doyle covers.

If I could find a fault with this book it has to be the lack of photographs of the Sexton, Kangaroo and other variants of the M7 in British or Commonwealth service.

I think this is an excellent reference source for any model-maker as well as being high quality research material for any budding military historian.

I rate this book very highly and recommend it to any military vehicle model-maker.


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